Legislative Update

Monday, May 23, 2016
May 23, 2016 Legislative Update

House Approves Budget Proposal, Onto to the Senate

The House was laboring through its proposed budget adjustments for the two year biennium last week. Totaling over $22 billion, the House budget adjustment proposal is a 2.3% increase from the previous fiscal year. The House’s recommendations include significant investments in public education at all levels, raises for experienced teachers, funds for transportation and infrastructure improvements, tax relief for the middle class, and additional funds for the state’s financial reserves.

Following the passage of many floor amendments Wednesday night and Thursday morning, the House passed their budget proposal on the third reading 103-12. The budget, which passed with bipartisan support, will be sent to the Senate for their review.

The Senate has announced their plans to pass their version of the budget by Memorial Day. They plan to begin meeting in subcommittees this week.

Read House Special Provisions.

Read House Money Report.

Read Speaker Tim Moore’s Press Release.

Agricultural & Natural Resources

To encourage economic development and the protection of the environment, the House proposal allocates funds for various environmental protection and agricultural development programs, including:

  • $300,000 for the Healthy Food Small Retailer Fund.
  • $1,000,000 for the Tobacco Trust Fund.
  • $1,000,000 for the Farmland Preservation Trust Fund.
  • An additional $5 million to the Clean Water Management Trust Fund.

Capital Improvements

As the state grows, capital investments become more important to meet the needs of the state’s parks, water resources, and public facilities. The House proposal provides funding for the following initiatives:

  • $4,500,000 for repairs and renovations funds to the North Carolina Zoo.
  • $923,000 for repairs and renovations for the State Capitol.
  • Increases oversight of capital projects with leases exceeding 30 years and places limitations on certain leases.

Economic Development, Finance and Tax

The House budget makes a considerable effort to support economic growth, provide tax relief to the middle class, and bolster the state’s financial reserves.

  • Raises the standard deduction from $6,000 to $15,000.
  • Includes $10 million for the Job Development and Investment Grant program to recruit and expand businesses in North Carolina.
  • Adds an additional $300 million to the state’s financial reserves.
  • Expands exemption from the 1%/$80 sales tax on parts, repairs and equipment at ports facilities, as well as mill machinery. 

Education

Fully funding enrollment growth, raising the average teacher ay and technological investments are a few of the many education initiatives that the House is emphasizing in their budget recommendations.

  • Broadens the principal preparation program to improve school leadership in lower performing schools.
  • Incentivizes bonuses for teachers based on student attainment in AP and IB testing.
  • Raises funding for Special Needs Scholarships by $5.8 million.
  • Allocates $25 million to support literacy coach positions in schools that perform in the lowest 20%. The literacy coach funding reiterates the commitment to having all children reading by the third grade.
  • Funding for “Part-way home” students, which are those that have completed some college credit but not enough to attain a degree.
  • Over $9 million in technological investments for the NC Digital Learning Plan, which provides classroom resources and technological education for students and teachers.
  • Fully funds driver education.

General Government

The House placed an emphasis on rewarding current state employees and retirees in the upcoming budget. The House made the following recommendations:   

  • Adds $155 million in reserves/pensions contributions.
  • Includes cost of living adjustment for retired teachers, judicial, legislative and other state employees.
  • Enhance benefits of probation and parole officers.

Health & Human Services

Protecting public health while investing in substance abuse treatment, improving the health care programs for children, and disease prevention are the focus of the House’s budget proposal for Health and Human Services. The proposal includes:

  • Funding for a Medicaid analytics pilot program to improve the effectiveness of the Medicaid program.
  • Allocates $9 million for improvements to the Child Welfare Federal Program Improvement Plan.
  • $2 million to the Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention Program, a diabetes prevention initiative targeted to minority populations.

Information Technology

Information technology is a significant industry in North Carolina’s economy, providing jobs and economic opportunity. The House budget includes the following investments:

  • Over $21 million for the state’s information technology fund.
  • Creates a Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program for disabled veterans.

Justice & Public Safety

Increased funding for justice and public safety agencies are highlighted in the House proposal to promote safety in the state’s communities and schools, as well as providing funds to support:

  • Equipping and staffing the newly created Western Crime Lab which will serve the state’s western and mountain counties.
  • Outsourcing funds for forensic analysis, toxicology and DNA testing.
  • Directs Indigent Defense Services to study the allocation of capital defenders.
  • Social media training for law enforcement officers.

Transportation

As North Carolina continues to experience significant population growth, investments in the state’s roads, ferries, and other transportation initiatives become increasingly important. The House budget puts an emphasis on supporting maintenance and improvements to the state’s transportation network.

  • Eliminates ferry tolls and funds capital improvements to the ferry system.
  • Increases funds for secondary road maintenance and unpaved roads.
  • Repeals the light rail funding cap.

 

Posted by: Kerri A. Burke, McGuireWoods Consulting LLC @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)
Monday, May 16, 2016
May 16, 2016 Legislative Update

House Moves Forward with State Budget Adjustments

Last week the House Appropriations subcommittees released portions of the state budget adjustments. This week, the full House Appropriations Committee will work through the full budget before bringing it to the chamber floor for a vote later in the week. The budget includes a 2.26% spending increase from the 2015-16 Fiscal Year and many special provisions.

Comprehensive Economic Development Proposals

The House and Senate filed several Economic Development bills this week addressing economic development tiers, the Connect NC Bond and an omnibus economic development bill.

Sens. Gunn (R- Alamance), Harry Brown (R-Onslow) and Hise (R-Mitchell) and Reps. Susan Martin (R-Wilson), John Bell (R-Wayne) and John Fraley (R-Iredell) filed S826/ H1090: Prosperity & Economic Opportunity for All NC Act. The legislation includes numerous provisions regarding economic development including:

  • Providing access to entrepreneurs
  • New Markets Tax Credit
  • Small Business Venture Fund
  • Encourage Inter-Tier Cooperation for JDIG
  • Repeal Taxation of Mill Machinery
  • Innovation to Jobs Initiative
  • Food Manufacturing
  • Tourism and Marketing Expansion
  • Extend Research and Development Tax Credit
  • Funding for Identification of Underutilize4d State Property
  • Funding of Main Street Solutions Fund
  • Community Planner Position Funding
  • Community Economic Development Support

The legislation has been referred to the House Committee on Rules and Operations of the House and the Senate Committee on Commerce.

Companion bills H1082/ S844: Eliminate Use of Development Tiers were filed by Reps. Ted Davis (R-New Hanover) and Craig Horn (R-Union) and Sens. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell), Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth), and Don Davis (D-Greene) on Tuesday. The legislation would eliminate the use of development tiers by the Departments of Agriculture, Consumer Services, Environmental Quality, Information Technology, Health and Human Services, Transportation and Revenue as well as the N.C. Housing Finance Agency. An economic distress index would also be created by the legislation to replace the tier system, ranking counties by four factors: average rate of unemployment, medium household income, average wage and percentage of adults 25 or older who have not received a high school diploma or equivalent. The House bill was referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the House, while the Senate bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce.

Legislation reallocating a $490 million portion of the Connect NC Bond was filed on Tuesday by Rep. Chris Millis (R-Pender). H1106: Modify Uses of Connect NC Bonds would reallocate $490 million from projects for the University of North Carolina to transportation projects, subject to a statewide referendum on the November ballot. H1106 has been referred to the House Committee on Finance.

Tax Reform

Six bills were filed in the Senate addressing tax reform and exemptions. All of the six bills have been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.

Sen. Joel Ford (D-Mecklenburg) filed S828: Small Business Incentive Act. The legislation would add certain tangible personal property that is used for business use, and meets certain requirements listed in the bill, to the exemption from the retail sales and use tax. The legislation also exempts 15% of the appraised value of tangible personal property, valued at least $100,000, from the tax base.  The bill is identical to H991 filed by Mecklenburg County Democrats, Reps. Kelly Alexander and Rodney Moore, last week.

Sen. Ford also filed S829: Small Business Tax Incentive which amends Statues 105-130.5B and 105-156.6 to allow an exception for small businesses engaged in productions of goods or delivery of services that do not have more than $2 million in gross annual sales with regard to the dollar limitations and add-back requirements in 105-130.5B(c) and 105-156.6(c) if S726 or H973 become law.

Sen. Bill Cook (R-Beaufort) filed S842: Exempt Vacation Linen Rentals from Sales Tax. The legislation would exempt rental of linens to the provider of a residential accommodation from sales and use tax.  

S846: Change the LOST Adjustment Factor was filed by Sen. Harry Brown (R-Onslow). S846 changes the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) Adjustment Factor to one that varies by economic development tiers and repeals the State’s contribution toward he LOST distribution.

S869: Market-Based Sourcing, filed by Sens. Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg) and Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) would establish that market-based sourcing be used for multistate income tax apportionment.

Sens. Rucho and Rabon, along with Sen. Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph) filed S870: Refine Sales & Use Tax on RMI, which would provide a grace period for under collection of sales and use tax on repair, maintenance, and installation services if good-faith efforts were made to comply with the law. The legislation also refines the application of these taxes.

Transportation

Last week, several transportation issues were discussed including light rail, ferries and ignition interlock device use.

H988: Repeal Light Rail Funding Cap, filed by Reps. John Torbett (R-Gaston), Phil Shepard (R-Onslow) and Paul Tine (U-Dare) on April 27, which would repeal the current $500,000 funding cap for light rail projects, was reviewed by the House Committee on Transportation on Tuesday. The funding cap has directly affected the Durham-Orange project, which the state was expected to partially fund.  Though the legislation was criticized by some committee members from rural areas, it received a favorable report from the committee. A Senate companion bill, S857 was filed on Tuesday by Sens. Floyd McKissick (D-Durham), Kathy Harrington (R-Gaston) and Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick); it has been referred to the Senate Committee on Transportation.

The House Transportation Committee also reviewed H1002: Ferry System Stabilization Act on Tuesday. H1002 was also filed by Reps. Torbett, Shepard and Tine as well as Linda Johnson (R- Cabarrus) on April 27. The act would remove tolls from state ferries and appropriate additional funds for the replacement and renovation of the vessels. This is the third time in three years that House lawmakers have attempted to remove ferry tolls. The legislation received a favorable report from the committee.

Immigration

Three bills were filed in the House and Senate related to immigration compliance, employment and refugee populations.

S868: Local Government Immigration Compliance filed by Sens. Norman Sanderson (R-Pamlico) and Buck Newton (R-Wilson) would set up a process for the state Attorney General to investigate complaints about sanctuary city practices and the consequences for non-compliant counties. Though legislation banned “sanctuary city” policies last year, law enforcement officials have raised a concern that local governments are not complying with the law, according to Senate leader Phil Berger’s (R-Rockingham) office. The legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary II.

Reps. George Cleveland (R-Onslow),  Debra Conrad (R-Forsyth), Chris Millis (R-Pender) and Chris Whitmire (R-Transylvania) filed H1069: 2016 NC Employee Protection Act ,which strengthens employment verification procedures by requiring E-verify procedures for employers with 5 or more employees, current law requires only for employers with 25 or more employees. The legislation also removes the exclusion for employees whose employment spans less than nine months in a calendar year, with some exceptions. H1069 has been referred to the House Committee on Regulatory Reform.

H1086: Refugee Resettlement Act of 2016 was also filed by Reps. Whitmire and Cleveland along with John Torbett (R-Gaston) and Mike Hager (R-Rutherford). The legislation would allow local governments to request a moratorium on refugee resettlement activities based on capacity. Local governments would also be required to hold public hearings prior to notifying the N.C. Refugee Assistance Program of available capacity to settle refugees. The legislation has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary II. 

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Monday, May 9, 2016
May 9, 2016 Legislative Update

HB2 Conversations Continue to Take Center Stage

On Wednesday, the U.S. Justice Department notified Gov. Pat McCrory that HB2: Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act violates the U.S. Civil Rights Act and Title IX. State officials have been given a deadline of today, May 9 to confirm whether or not the state will continue to implement HB2.

Governor McCrory, House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingam) each stated that the letter is an example of Washington D.C. overreach. Speaker Moore stated that the Monday deadline is unrealistic and will not be met, while Sen. Berger acknowledged that there will be some response by the deadline but that he does not see it being a legislative response. Gov. McCrory has stated that his office would respond to the Justice Department by Monday, but it is currently unclear what the response will be.

House Works to Advance State Budget Adjustments

The House continued their budget adjustment process last week in the appropriations subcommittees. Subcommittees continued to review the Governor’s budget and discussed their priorities for the upcoming fiscal year.

Also last week the House and Senate budget writers agreed to a $22.225 million spending limit for the coming fiscal year. The spending target is a 2.26% increase, which is less than Governor McCrory’s proposed increase of 2.8%. 

The House aims to send their final budget recommendations to the Senate by next week.

Economic Development

During the legislative interim, the Joint Legislative Economic Development and Global Engagement Oversight Committee discussed the state’s current tier system for ranking counties. Last week, the co-chairs of the interim committee, Sen. Harry Brown (R-Onslow) and Rep. Susan Martin (R-Wilson) filed companion bills: HB1029/SB811: Economic Development Changes & Study.

This legislation would create a workgroup tasked with examining the state’s strategy for assisting economically distressed communities. The workgroup, comprised of subject matter experts appointed by the House and Senate and the Secretary of Commerce, would be required to report to the General Assembly with a plan for programs that would better serve the state’s economic growth.

Both House and Senate bills have been referred to their chamber’s committees on Commerce.

Tax Reform 

  • Municipal Service Districts: After examining municipal service districts (MSDs) during the interim, the House and Senate filed companion bills last week, HB1023/SB803: Municipal Service Districts/Statutory Changes. The House bill is sponsored by Rep. Ted Davis (R-New Hanover), while the Senate version is sponsored by Sens. Trudy Wade (R-Guilford), Floyd McKissick (R-Durham) and Fletcher Hartsell (R-Cabarrus). The legislation makes several changes to current statutes on MSDs, including: 1) Establish a process by which the property owners may petition the city council for creation of a MSD; 2) Establish a process by which property owners may request to be excluded from the geographic boundaries of a MSD either upon its creation or after the MSD is established. 
  • State Income Taxes: Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg) filed two bills concerning state taxes. SB817: Constitutional Amendment-Max Income Tax Rate of 5.5% would reduce the maximum tax rate on incomes from 10% to 5.5%. The legislation would be subject to a statewide election in November, if passed by the legislature. SB818: Increase the Zero Tax Bracket would increase the standard deduction for all taxpayers eligible for the standard deduction.
  • Military Income: SB819: Military State Income Tax Relief filed by Sens. Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth) and Ronald Rabin (R-Harnett) aims to provide income tax relief for members of the Armed Forces who are N.C. residents but are stationed outside of the state, by providing that the pay of these members of the service is excluded from the state’s definition of taxable income.
  • Revenue Laws: SB729: Various Changes to Revenue Laws, sponsored by Sens. Rucho, Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) and Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph), passed through the Senate by a unanimous vote. The legislation would make technical corrections and clarifying changes to the tax statutes based on recommendations of the Department of Revenue. Notably, the bill changes how much of a deduction a business can take when it borrows funds from a related corporate entity. Last week, the bill was reviewed by the House, who voted 86-21 yesterday to approve the bill. The bill will now be sent to the Governor for his signature.

Health & Human Services

HB1048: Reduce Barriers to Improve NC Health & Safety, was filed by Reps. David Lewis (R-Harnett). Darren Jackson (R-Wake), Greg Murphy (R-Pitt) and Josh Dobson (R- McDowell).

The legislation was recommended by the House Select Committee on Step Therapy and would do the following:

  • Provides that health benefit plans that provide coverage for abuse-deterrent opioid analgesic drug products can impose a prior authorization only if the same prior authorization requirement is in place for each opioid analgesic that does not carry an abuse-deterrent claim.
  • Requires that clinical review criteria used to establish step therapy protocol of health plans be based on five specified requirements
  • Provides that the patient and prescribing practitioner have access to a clear and convenient process for requesting step therapy override determination
  • Sets out that an override determination must be expeditiously granted under four circumstances.

State Lottery

The House filed HB1038: Lottery-JLOC Recommendations, which would implement changes recommended by the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on the State Lottery. The bill is sponsored by Reps. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) and Harry Warren (R-Rowan). The Senate also filed the same bill last week, sponsored by Sen. Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph).

The legislation would do the following:

  • Increase the advertising cost cap for the NC State Lottery, providing that the costs cannot exceed 2% of total annual revenues. Previously, this cap was set at 1%.
  • Provides that advertising costs will count towards the expenses of the lottery.
  • Provides that unclaimed prize money must be redirected to the Education Lottery Fund. Preciously, 50% of the amounts were directed to enhance prize money.
  • Clarifies that video lottery terminals are not an approved lottery game in the state.

The House bill was referred to House Appropriations, while the Senate bill was referred to Senate Finance.

Additionally, SB811: Lottery Funds for School Construction, sponsored by Sen. Brown, was filed, which would require that a portion of lottery revenues be allocated for K-12 school construction through a new Critical Public School Building Needs Fund. The bill appropriates $25 million from the Education Lottery Fund to the new fund for the 2016-17 fiscal year. The legislation was referred to the Senate Appropriations committee.

 

Posted by: Kerri A. Burke, McGuireWoods Consulting LLC @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)
Monday, May 2, 2016
May 2, 2016 Legislative Update

The General Assembly is officially back in Raleigh, convening the 2016 Short Session last Monday evening. The legislature hit the ground running, filing 144 bills within the first week covering a wide array of topics.

Budget Process Begins

As the first week of the short session ends, the biennium budget adjustment process is already underway. Governor Pat McCrory’s budget recommendations were presented to a joint House and Senate Appropriations committee. The recommendations will be considered as the legislature adjusts the biennial budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year. McCrory’s recommendations highlighted the positive economic position of the state, particularly the state’s $237 million projected revenue surplus, and economic growth. The Governor’s budget proposes a 2.8% spending increase from the 2015-16 fiscal year and continued savings to the state’s rainy day fund, both pillars of his commitment to fiscal responsibility

The House Appropriations subcommittees plan to discuss their priorities this week and begin creating committee budgets the following week. The House plans for this process to be expeditious, and hopes to send their budget bill to the Senate by mid-May.

Transportation Issues Take Center Stage

Last week, several bills were filed in both the House and Senate addressing the transportation needs of the state.

 “DOT Proposed Legislative Changes”, SB723/HB959 was initially reviewed by the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee over the interim. The legislation makes numerous changes to transportation law, including changes to the DMV operations and some driver license standards.

Identical bills were filed in both chambers to study the fiscal impact of the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). SB778/HB1003 directs the Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to study the fiscal impacts of SEPA on transportation project permitting. The legislation was recommended by the Environmental Review Commission.

Two similar, but not identical bills were filed in the House last week to terminate the contract between NCDOT and Cintra, the company contracted to build toll lanes on I-77 in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area. The estimated cost of cancelling the contract is between $82 and $300 million, according to a report commissioned by the State Auditor. HB950 sponsored by Rep. Tricia Cotham (D-Mecklenburg), requires NCDOT to be responsible for the payment of any penalties accrued from terminating the contract, while HB954 sponsored by Reps. Charles Jeter (R-Mecklenburg), Mike Hager (R-Rutherford), and John Bradford (R-Mecklenburg) does not specify how the termination would be funded. 

After being reviewed by the House Select Committee on Strategic Planning and Long Term Funding Solutions over the interim, HB988, “Repeal Light Rail Funding Cap,” was introduced this week. The legislation would repeal the present funding cap on light rail projects, which is set at $500,000. H.B. 988 will be sent to the House Committee on Transportation before being reviewed by the Appropriations committee.

Revenue Laws & Clarification

Two identical bills were filed, titled, “Various Changes to the Revenue Laws.” The legislation came out of the Revenue Laws Study Committee, which met during the interim.

HB974/SB729 would make technical corrections and clarifying changes to the tax statutes based on recommendations of the Department of Revenue. Notably, the bill changes how much of a deduction a business can take when it borrows funds from a related corporate entity.

The Senate version of the bill moved quickly through the chamber, being reviewed in Senate Finance and passing out of the chamber on a unanimous vote of 47-0 by Thursday afternoon. Sen. Rucho (R-Mecklenburg), one of the bill’s sponsors, made two technical amendments on the floor. S.B. 729 will now be sent to the House for review. 

Unemployment Insurance  

Both the House and Senate filed companion bills titled “Unemployment Insurance Technical Changes” this week. The Senate version, SB725 was reviewed by the Finance committee and passed all readings on the floor unanimously; it will now be sent to the House.

The legislation aims to create tougher unemployment insurance laws for companies that reincorporate their company. The legislation clarifies that a new company with the same ownership and management will pay the same state unemployment tax rate as the old company. 

Medicaid

Two bills addressing Medicaid were filed by the House, HB967, “Prepaid Health Plans Licensing by DOI,” and HB968, “Medicaid Transformation Reporting.” Both pieces of legislation were recommended by the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Medicaid and NC Health Choice.

H.B. 967 would require prepaid health plans to obtain a license from the Department of Insurance. The legislation also makes several changes to ensure solvency of all prepaid health plan providers. The bill will first be reviewed by the House Committee on Insurance and then Appropriations.

H.B. 968 would require the Department of Health and Human Services to report to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Medicaid & NC Health Choice on the following:

  • The status of the 1115 waiver submission to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
  • A detailed Work Plan for the implementation of the transformation of Medicaid and Health Choice Programs
  • A detailed description of any developments or changes during the planning process to enable the General Assembly to address any barriers to successful implementation of the Medicaid and NC Health Choice transformation.

Mental Health & Opioid Abuse

Several bills focusing on mental health care were filed last week addressing suicide prevention and opioid abuse. 

Study Suicide PreventionHB999/SB736 direct a subcommittee on suicide prevention to be formed. The purpose of the subcommittee would be to study the role of health providers and others in suicide prevention. This legislation was first reviewed by the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services.

Study/ Opioid Abuse Incapacity to Proceed – HB987/SB788 respond to a national and statewide resurgence of opiate addiction. The legislation directs the Governor’s Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Abuse to continue their study of the issue. It also directs the Departments of Health and Human Services and Justice and Public Safety to study the use of opioid antagonists, specifically Vivitrol, in state-funded alcohol and opioid abuse centers. Finally, the legislation amends current law regarding incapacity to proceed by defendants in criminal proceedings, and would allow incapacity to proceed paperwork to be released to treatment providers.

Statewide Standing Order Opioid Antagonist HB1000/SB734 were filed at the request of the State Health Director, and had previously been reviewed by the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services. The legislation would authorize a statewide standing order of opioid antagonists, which effectively prevent the body from responding to opioids and endorphins and can combat overdose effects and help to break opiate addiction.

 

 

 

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Monday, October 5, 2015
October 5, 2015 Legislative Update

The North Carolina General Assembly adjourned September 30, 2015. The House and the Senate will begin the 2016 “short” session April 25, 2016

N.C. General Assembly Adjourns 2015 “Long” Session

The North Carolina General Assembly adjourned the 2015 session around 4 a.m. September 30, making it one of the longest sessions in more than a decade. Legislators began their work January 28 and ran 13 weeks past the end of the fiscal year June 30, making it the longest legislative session since 2012.

The House and Senate began their session focused on top priorities such as regulatory reform, Medicaid reform, job creation policies and the state spending plan. The session ended with nearly three hundred bills passed into law. The General Assembly will return to Raleigh for its 2016 “short” session April 25, 2016. Upon adjournment, Governor McCrory has 30 days to act on a bill and is required to reconvene the General Assembly if a bill is vetoed.

During the interim, in between adjournment and the date the General Assembly reconvenes, the speaker and president pro tempore may authorize oversight committees to meet.  Usually the General Assembly will pass a bill at the end of session authorizing agreed upon studies and reports to be completed by the oversight committees during the interim.  However, this year the speaker and president pro tempore chose not to pass such a bill, but rather complete any studies through the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) chaired by Senator Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson).

N.C. Governor Signs Economic Development Bill Into Law

Last week, Governor McCrory signed House Bill 117 — NC Competes Act — into law. Upon signing, the governor stated, “This plan sends a signal that we’re ready to compete with any state or nation to bring good-paying jobs to North Carolina. This plan coupled with the quality of life improvements we’ve made in education, health care and transportation, will demonstrate to companies that nothing compares to North Carolina when it comes to growing their business.”

The Charlotte Chamber applauds the North Carolina General Assembly and the governor for negotiating a compromise spending and economic development package. Thanks to strong efforts by Charlotte region legislators, Representative Bill Brawley and Representative Jason Saine, as well as Governor McCrory, efforts to redistribute sales tax revenues were thwarted and the state’s economic development toolbox has been strengthened.

The new law makes changes to the Job Development and Investment Grant (JDIG) and OneNC programs, several changes to the tax code, and a section dealing with tax compliance and fraud prevention.  However, HB 117 does not address the sunset of several tax credits including renewables, and research and development. 

N.C. General Assembly Passes Infrastructure Bond Proposal

Just after midnight Wednesday,  the North Carolina House gave final approval to House Bill 943 — Connect NC Bond Act of 2015.  The bill authorizes the state to issue $2 billion in bonds for economic development and infrastructure projects, upon the approval by a majority of the voters.  The bond issue will be included on the North Carolina presidential primary election ballot in March 2016.  The economic development and infrastructure projects funded by the bond must be consistent with Governor McCrory’s Connect NC Plan.  The bond package has been a priority for the governor this session.

The following projects are among those to benefit from the bond funding and are included in HB 943:

  • $980,000,000 in funding for various building renovations and construction at several University of North Carolina universities.
  • $350,000,000 in funding for construction, repairs and renovations at various North Carolina community colleges.
  • $312,500,000 for local parks and infrastructure.
  • $70,000,000 for readiness centers for the National Guard.
  • $179,000,000 for two agriculture projects at NC State University and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
  • $100,000,000 for state parks and attractions.
  • $8,500,000 for the Samarcand Training Academy in Moore County.

Comprehensive Regulatory Reform Package Passes

Late Tuesday night, the North Carolina House adopted the conference report to House Bill 765 —  Regulatory Reform Act of 2015.  The Senate adopted the report Monday.  The bill makes several statutory changes, including regulatory changes to various administrative statutes, eliminating certain statutes and regulations, and modernizing or simplifying regulations.

Some highlights from the conference report include:

  • Shifts the burden of proof in certain contested cases.
  • Prohibits licensees from serving as investigators and inspectors on occupational licensing boards.Exempts small business entities buying or selling entity-owned property.
  • Amends the definition of “employee” under the Workers’ Compensation Act to exclude volunteers and officers of certain nonprofits.
  • Expands the good Samaritan law to breaking into or out of railroad cars, motor vehicles, trailers, aircraft, boats or other watercrafts.
  • Directs the Environmental Review Commission to study open and fair competition with respect to materials used in wastewater, storm water and other water projects.
  • Creates two studies on 1) electronic recycling programs and 2) permitting and recycling programs for utility-scale solar projects.
  • Amends the risk-based remediation statutes.
  • Amends the definition for “prospective developer” under brownfields redevelopments.
  • Makes amendments to isolated wetlands laws.
  • Studies and amends storm water laws.
  • Creates a study of flood elevations and building height requirements.

The bill will now go to the governor for his consideration.

N.C. Legislators Pass Technical Corrections to Budget and General Statutes

Two bills passed the North Carolina House and Senate last week, making technical corrections to general law and the state budget. The House concurred to Senate changes early Wednesday morning for House Bill 259 — General Government Technical Corrections. The bill is largely technical changes to the new state spending plan.

And the House took the lead on the bill making technical corrections to general law, Senate Bill 119 — GSC Technical Corrections 2015.  The House added several policy provisions to SB 119, so the Senate voted not to concur and sent SB 119 to a conference committee just after midnight Wednesday morning.  Negotiations on the bill were finalized and presented around 4 a.m. Wednesday.  The vast majority of the policy provisions were struck from the bill, leaving mostly technical changes. Those policy provisions removed will likely be issues for debate during the 2016 legislative session.

Changes to E-Verify Compliance

Last week, House Bill 318 — Protect North Carolina Workers Act — passed both the North Carolina House and Senate chambers.  The bill requires E-verify compliance in certain governmental contracts, clarifies what documents may be used to determine identification or residence, prohibits local governments from adopting sanctuary city ordinances, and prohibits the Department of Health and Human Services from issuing waivers to exempt food stamp recipients from federal work requirements.

The bill will now go to the governor.

N.C. General Assembly Passes Controversial Elections Changes

Three bills passed the North Carolina General Assembly during the last days of session that will change the upcoming North Carolina election cycle: 

  • House Bill 373 — Elections — moves the North Carolina primary date to March 15, 2016, and includes a controversial provision that allows for the establishment of affiliated party committees. Governor McCrory signed the bill into law last week.
  • House Bill 8 — Court of Appeals Election Modifications — changes the North Carolina Court of Appeals races to partisan elections.
  • Senate Bill 119 — GSC Technical Corrections of 2015 — permits Council of State members of the same political party to create an affiliated party committee. Under the legislation, the committee would be able to support the election of candidates of the North Carolina Council of State of the same party. This provision, as with HB373, allows for, but does not require, the establishment of these committees.

Certification of Need (CON) Changes Pass

Late Tuesday, the North Carolina Senate gave final approval to a House committee substitute for Senate Bill 698 — Legacy Medical Care Facility/CON Exempt.  The bill now provides for certain exemptions under the Certificate of Need (CON) law for newly defined “legacy medical care facilities.” A “legacy medical care facility” is a health care facility that is not currently in operation and has not been in operation for at least six months, but has been licensed and providing services within the past two years. The bill will help recently closed hospitals, such as hospitals in Yadkinville and Belhaven.  The bill now goes to the governor for his consideration.

Other Legislation of Note Passes Before Adjournment

Term Limits for Board of Governors Members
Senate Bill 670 limits members of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors to three terms.  A second provision, establishing a process for selection of a UNC System president, was added to the bill Tuesday before the House and Senate gave final sign-off on the legislation. 

Autism Health Insurance Coverage
After being sent to Rules at the end of June, Senate Bill 676 passed both chambers of the General Assembly this week.  The legislation provides for insurance coverage for the treatment of Autism.  It requires health benefits plans to provide coverage for the screening, diagnosis and treatment of Autism. 

Reegan's Rule/Enforce Pharmacy Benefits Management
Senate Bill 694 establishes legislation for the purpose of encouraging parent education of Type I diabetes during certain well-child visits, and amends the law pertaining to pharmacy benefits managers, creating a $100-$1,000 per day per drug penalty if a pharmacy benefits manager is found in violation of the law. 

Industrial Hemp
Senate Bill 313 promotes and encourages the development of an industrial hemp industry in North Carolina

Epi Pens in All Child-Serving Businesses.
House Bill 647 authorizes health care providers to prescribe and pharmacists to dispense epinephrine auto-injectors to authorized entities other than schools for the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis.

Posted by: Kerri Burke, McGuire Woods Consulting LLC @ 12:00:00 am  Comments (0)
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